Getting into a motor vehicle collision can change your life in a second. One moment, you’re headed to work or the store, and the next, someone makes a mistake that injures you severely. Auto accidents can result in a host of severe and debilitating medical issues, from broken bones and spinal cord injuries to paralysis and traumatic brain injuries.
In the wake of a crash, you may find yourself unable to work, facing steep medical expenses and worrying about the future. When your insurance company calls with an offer for a lump sum settlement, you may feel tempted to jump at the offer, as you need financial help right now. However, accepting that offer could prove to be a mistake that can have devastating consequences for your future and your family.
Insurance companies are driven by profit, not compassion.
You’ve been paying your premium diligently for years, so it’s only natural to assume that your insurance company will do right by you when you need the coverage. Sadly, that is often not the case. Insurance companies, for the most part, are for-profit organizations. Their goal is to maximize profits while reducing financial expenditures and liabilities.
Once you have a substantial claim related to an accident caused by someone else, you become a liability for your insurance company. Offering a lowball settlement is a way to limit or eliminate future financial losses associated with your policy and this claim. Insurers know that you are likely in need of immediate cash flow, and they hope you’ll make an impulsive choice. They are likely offering you much less money than what your losses will amount to in the following weeks and months.
You have the right to refuse a bad settlement offer.
Although a check right now may seem like exactly what you need, you should take the time to carefully consider the amount offered. Look over your existing medical bills, as well as the estimated costs to replace or repair your vehicle. Consider your lost wages as well. Now, think about future medical treatments, like physical therapy and surgeries you could require for full recovery.
Once you add all of that up, you can compare it to the offer from your insurance company. Does the settlement offer cover all of your current and potential future losses from the crash? If not, you can respectfully decline the offer, and your attorney can make a counter-offer with a more reasonable amount.
While your claim is open, you should be careful about recorded conversations with insurance adjusters. Legal advice and guidance will be helpful in this situation, because it’s easy for a savvy adjuster to trick you into saying something that implies you share fault in the crash, reducing your potential recovery.
Before you talk to the insurance company, and as soon as possible after the crash, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney.